Whether officially commissioned or applied hastily in secret once night falls, street art has blossomed in Manchester in recent years, transforming drab city centre walls and public spaces into an ever-changing, immersive gallery of life and colour.
Far from being seen as vandalism, many murals have been embraced by the public and have become part of Manchester’s new landscape.
We’ve picked ten must-see examples of street art in Manchester. Some have been around for years, while others change frequently, but they all demonstrate the city’s creative spirit.
Akse’s Psychopaths Project
Street artist Akse, who has been spraypainting walls since 1992, is based in Manchester. You have probably seen some of the portraits in his Psychopaths Project, started in 2011 and showcasing some of film and TV’s most famous faces, including characters such as Tony Soprano, and the mural of Heisenberg from Breaking Bad on Tib Street – photos of which went viral in 2013.
He recently added Frank Underwood from House of Cards in Burnage, and just this week completed Richard Harrow from Boardwalk Empire in Blackpool.
A much more personal mural, you can see this wonderful street art portrait of his son on Spear Street in the Northern Quarter.
One of the most famous murals in Manchester city centre is the beautiful, larger-than-life blue tit adorning this building in Newton Street.
Created by female graphic artist and designer Faunagraphic, this piece was commissioned in 2011 by Converse as part of their Wall to Wall project, which saw street art installations across European cities including Barcelona, Antwerp and Naples.
Out House Project
— OUT HOUSE (@outhousemcr) July 14, 2015
In Stevenson Square, you’ll find the Out House Project, an outdoor project space for public art since 2010, supported by the independent arts and crafts shop Fred Aldous.
Livening up what was formerly a block of disused public toilets, the artwork changes frequently, showcasing different artists.
Stevenson Square / kELzO
Also in Stevenson Square, alongside the Out House Project, you’ll find some superb street art adorning walls, shop shutters and other public spaces.
These include pieces by Manchester graffiti artist kELzO, part of the UK Hip Hop youth movement of the mid 1980’s and known across the world.
Batman and Superman kiss
Photo: Matthew Turner/ Instagram
On Canal Street, on the wall of the New Union Hotel in the Gay Village, you will find this mural of Batman and Superman sharing a kiss.
The Molly House
Last September, artists created a huge mural in the Gay Village to honour Manchester’s gay icons.
Work In Progress. Day 3 pic.twitter.com/U0eGxadNch
— THE MOLLY HOUSE (@themollyhouse) September 22, 2014
Alan Turing, Emmeline Pankhurst, Quentin Crisp and drag queen Foo Foo Lammar were all included in the 40m high artwork, painted on the side of The Molly House.
Quentin Crisp also proudly appears in a Canal Street doorway, as one of Stewy’s life-size, hand-cut stencils of British icons.
STEWY – Peter Hook, Dale St, Manchester https://t.co/9MGFNwhG8J
— STEWY (@stewysstencils) May 16, 2015
Look out for other Northern icons across the city by Stewy too, including Peter Hook, ‘Mr Manchester’ Tony Wilson, John Cooper Clarke, and Frank Sidebottom (now with added graffiti) on Oldham Street.
Subism Collective’s The Wall
This wall, on the side of the Ridelow bike shop, was painted by Subism Collective in 2011 in collaboration with Red Bull.
With a theme of the four elements, this earth, wind, fire and water illustration was drawn by artists Deus, N4t4, Philth and Ventsa.
Photos: Red Bull
Space invader Manchester #graffiti #manchester #atwork #art #paid A photo posted by dr_eggman (@dr_eggman) on
You can enjoy a close encounter with the space invaders thanks to the French street artist Invader – find them on various streets around Manchester (and indeed in cities throughout the world).
— mancsy (@RealMancsy) June 14, 2015
The pseudonymous Manchester street artist, whose moniker is a play on Bristolian graffiti artist Banksy’s, recently held an exhibition at the Victoria Warehouse featuring new prints as well as mosaics produced in collaboration with Manchester Mosaics’ Amanda McCrann.
— Amanda (@McrMosaics) June 24, 2015
His first giveaway of twenty posters around the Northern Quarter was back in January 2012, and since then his reputation has continued to grow.
Mancsy’s trademark bee has been a symbol of Manchester since the Industrial Revolution.
All original photos by Louise Rhind-Tutt unless otherwise credited.